Roger Federer said Thursday retaining his world number one ranking is no more than a “mini-goal” as he prepares his bid to defend the ATP Miami Open title.
The 36-year-old Swiss star needs to advance to the quarter-finals in Florida to hold on to his number one ranking, or face being supplanted by old rival Rafael Nadal in top spot.
However Federer, who was beaten by Juan Martin Del Potro in Sunday’s Indian Wells final, said he is not attaching too much importance to hanging on to his ranking.
“The number one ranking is in my head a little bit, but no more than that,” Federer said. “It’s a mini-goal. It would be nice to stay there but it’s no more important than that.
“You have to win matches to go far here. Going far enough to stay number one, it helps my motivation to have a goal. But even if I don’t manage it, it’s not the end of the world.”
Federer will launch his Miami campaign on Saturday against a qualifier.
Federer, winner of an incredible 20 Grand Slam singles titles, meanwhile spoke admiringly of Del Potro’s rehabilitation into the tennis circuit’s winners circle following a career-threatening wrist injury.
— Roger Federer (@rogerfederer) March 19, 2018
“I can only look from far away and think, ‘I wonder how it was for him.’ Hard to imagine how – most important about having had surgeries, I guess, and being injured is the doubts you have. Are you ever going to come back? And overcoming that fear and gaining confidence again,” Federer said.
“It’s such a nice story because he finally did it, but he had to do it the hard way, put himself out there, knowing he was not going to win all the matches he was going to play.
“It’s tough to do that, you know. That deserves a lot of respect, in my opinion, especially knowing what level he can achieve as a player.”
Federer said he had already moved on from Sunday’s loss to Del Potro in Indian Wells, saying he was due a loss after a successful 2017.
“Didn’t take me a whole lot of time to get over it, to be honest, because I felt like it could have gone either way,” Federer said.
“Unfortunately I wasn’t on the winner’s side because maybe I have had enough luck throughout the last 14 months on my side of the court, so it’s OK to lose some.
“I felt that also Juan Martin had to earn it. He had to play good to get it. Then you kind of move on with it.”
World No1 Roger Federer returns to the court to defend his Indian Wells title this week, fresh off the back of a doubles knock-up with Microsoft founder and billionaire Bill Gates.
The Swiss partnered the American business magnate and philanthropist in Monday night’s Match for Africa 5 exhibition in San Jose, which raised $2.5 million for the Roger Federer Foundation.
In an evening of entertainment in front of a 15,000-strong SAP Center crowd, Federer and Gates joined forces – in a repeat of their charity match in Seattle in 2017 – and faced World No10 Jack Sock and NBC Today Show host Savannah Guthrie in a celebrity encounter to raise funds for children’s education in Africa.
After that, the 20-time Grand Slam winner took on Sock in a light-hearted best-of-three sets singles clash, with the 36-year-old triumphing 7-6 (9) 6-4.
Federer has 1,000 points to defend at the BNP Paribas Open and needs to reach the semi-finals in California to ensure he stays atop of the rankings.
If he fails to do so, Rafael Nadal will reclaim the No1 spot for the fifth time in his career on March 19 ahead of the Miami Open – another tournament in which Federer is reigning champion – in just over two weeks’ time.
Federer is the favourite to win both titles and claim the American swing ‘Sunshine Double’ yet again – and is helped by the fact Nadal is ruled out of both events with a hip injury, joining the likes of Stan Wawrinka, David Goffin, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray on the sidelines.
That leaves second seed Marin Cilic, Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov and young gun Alexander Zverev as Federer’s main challengers whilst Juan Martin del Potro and Kevin Anderson also pose a big threat on the fast hard courts.
Top seed Federer, who has received a first-round bye, will bid for a 98th career title when he gets his campaign under way this week.
Roger Federer returns to the court stateside on Monday night, as the Swiss faces American Jack Sock in Match for Africa 5.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion is in Silicon Valley to raise charitable funds for the Roger Federer Foundation and will face the World No.10 under lights in a three-set exhibition at the SAP Center in San Jose.
Federer will also partner Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates in a unique doubles match against Sock and Savannah Guthrie, co-host of the NBC Today Show.
It is the fifth event Federer and his team have laid on to support children’s education in Africa, and it follows last year’s successful charity match in Seattle.
Before taking to the court, the 36-year-old revealed a new set of Air Max 95s. Pretty swish!
The match will be streamed live on Federer’s Facebook page, with proceedings set to get underway at 7am UAE time on Tuesday morning.
Having reclaimed the World No1 ranking last month, Federer is due in action in Indian Wells this week.